Dalton Hoiles trying to make a name for himself

The name carries a certain amount of weight. But it won’t break Dalton Hoiles.

He knows that it’s a magnet for attention. The oldest son of former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles playing in the same organization. Wearing the same No. 23.

It isn’t quite on par with being Ryan Ripken or Preston Palmeiro, who are teammates at Double-A Bowie, but there’s still a level of expectation that could make him uncomfortable if he allowed it.

Maybe it helps that Dalton Hoiles plays the outfield at short-season Single-A Aberdeen instead of squatting behind the plate. At least the position is different. And his father approves.

“He explains that it gets harder on the knees as you get older,” Dalton said, “so it’s kind of a relief.”

AberdeenOFWall.jpg“Somehow he got speed,” said Chris Hoiles. “I’m not quite sure where the hell he got that. You put me in the outfield and I definitely wouldn’t be running down balls that Dalton does.”

The Orioles worked out Hoiles at Camden Yards last summer and signed him as an undrafted free agent. They had to wait until determining how many of their drafted players would agree to terms.

Teams passed on Hoiles despite an impressive four-year stint at Shippensburg University, where he batted .337/.414/.519 with 55 doubles, five triples, 22 home runs and 152 RBIs in 207 games. He also stole 23 bases.

In his final season, Hoiles led Shippensburg with a .362 average, .452 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 41 RBIs and 41 runs scored. His 22 doubles led the Atlantic Region and tied the single-season school record.

Recruited as a third baseman, Hoiles was moved to the outfield and now has played left and right as a professional.

Hoiles appeared in 19 games with the IronBirds last summer and collected only seven hits in 48 at-bats. He was slashing .316/.480/.421 with a double, home run, eight walks and three stolen bases in 14 games this season heading into last night.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You’ve just got to come in here and do everything that you’re supposed to do, work a little harder. The atmosphere is unbelievable here. The Ripken complex here, everywhere you go it’s fun. A lot of fans. I’m enjoying it.”

Hoiles, 23, returned to the IronBirds after a brief promotion to Double-A Bowie, where he appeared in only two games. A most unusual jump in the minors, going from a short-season team to the Eastern League.

“It was just injuries and stuff,” Hoiles said. “(Yusniel) Diaz had his kid, so he left for a couple days, and then Cole Billingsley was injured before I got there, so they only had three guys. So I was the fourth guy they needed up at Bowie.

“It was a good learning experience, for sure. If it happens in the future I’ll know what to expect when I go up there, if I go up there again. So I’ll take it as a good learning experience.”

He’ll also resist over-thinking why the Orioles jumped him that many levels, even for such a brief period. It isn’t standard procedure.

Just take it as a compliment, that he had the maturity to handle it, and settle in again with the IronBirds.

“Yeah, they didn’t really get into full detail, but they must see something they like or trust in me or something,” he said. “I’m just going to take it like that.”

Hoiles took an eight-game hitting streak into last night’s game. He was 10-for-28 during that stretch and 12-for-38 for the season.

He’s is off to a good start and accepting whatever attention comes with his last name.

The catcher’s son won’t run from it. Quite the opposite.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Everyone says, ‘How’s your dad doing? What’s he doing now?’ But I just kind of stay to who I am and stay true to who I am. I try not to let the last name get in front of me. So I just work hard and kind of make a name for myself.”

“We’ve talked about it,” said Chris Hoiles, who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2006. “We talked about it when he went off to college. Everybody’s going to associate him with me, which is cool, but the biggest thing for me, and I’ll be honest with you, I am 100 percent proud as hell of Dalton because he gets it. He understands it. He’s an awesome kid. When it comes to the name, I want Dalton to be Dalton Hoiles. I want Dalton to go do his thing, and he always has. I don’t want him to mirror what I did or anything like that.

“The only thing we talk about is, when he mirrors me, is to treat people right. Treat them with respect. But as far as the baseball thing goes, it doesn’t matter what you say to any reporter, it doesn’t matter what you say or want, you’re always going to be associated with me. It’s just the way the game is. But on the same breath, I want you to go out and you’re going to be Dalton Hoiles. You are going to create your own identity on how you play and who you are.’ And I think he has done that tenfold. I think he’s done that very, very well.

“He’s treated people with respect along the way. He gets it, he understand it. He’s been around it, so I think that helped. The Hoiles name will carry some clout, I hope, but he is his own player, he is his own person. And he is the one going through it right now and learning the ups and down about that side of it. And he’s handled it very, very well.

“He’s made a name for himself in the outfield and with the stick, and it’s one to be proud of, as far as I’m concerned.”

The subject brought a smile to Dalton’s face as he stood outside the IronBirds’ clubhouse before a Saturday night game. A heavy burden doesn’t bring that sort of reaction.

“Having the Hoiles last name is pretty exciting, knowing that I’m wearing the same number as him and the black and orange. But other than that I stay true to myself and don’t let that get my head a little bigger,” he said.

“I just keep moving forward and try to make a name for Dalton.”

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